The Internal Revenue Service official responsible for the office that targeted certain organizations seeking tax-exempt status was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday, making her the second senior official to be disciplined in the scandal.
Lois Lerner is the director of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division and was the first agency official to publicly acknowledge that employees inappropriately targeted certain conservative-leaning organizations.
The IRS did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday evening. Lerner's attorney, William Taylor, also did not return requests for comment.
Lerner's removal comes after acting Commissioner Steven Miller resigned last week at the request of President Obama. In his place, Obama installed Danny Werfel, a former White House budget official, who will oversee the agency until Sept. 30.
Werfel confirmed Lerner's removal in an e-mail to employees Thursday afternoon by saying that he had selected Ken Corbin, a deputy director from another IRS division, to lead the tax-exempt unit.
Werfel said that Corbin "is a proven leader during challenging times" and has experience "leading large work groups," skills that make him "an ideal choice" to lead the unit "through this difficult period."
On Thursday, Sens. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) and John McCain (R., Ariz.), who lead the Senate Committee on Investigations, wrote to Werfel urging him to remove Lerner, saying that failing to do so "would erode public trust and confidence" in the IRS.
Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment in her refusal to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday after giving a lengthy statement.